Count Your Blessings, Not Your Things

Count Your Blessings, Not Your Things

The concept that potential possibilities are worth more than physical possessions seems to be pretty obvious, but sometimes people tend to forget about it

When I graduated from college, I moved back home with my parents to save money (ah yes, the perpetual millennial plight). I packed up my four years of college into the back of my Jeep, and made that final, milestone drive home. As I was unpacking in my childhood bedroom, it hit me: why do I have so much stuff? How, in my four years of being at college, did my possessions seem to quadruple? And why on earth did I ever think that I needed all of this? I had boxes of pointless junk laying around my bedroom for months, because I had nowhere to put any of it. Trying to fit all my clothes in the closet was completely hopeless. I had books piled on top of each other on shelves, and plastic bags full of makeup on the floor. After two months, it became too much.

I purged everything – I dug through my closet and pulled out items of clothing that I had once loved, but hadn’t worn in ages. Sun dresses, jeans, t-shirts, shoes, everything. By the end of it, I donated about ten garbage bags full of clothes. With the biggest project tackled, I moved on – makeup, books, old knick knacks. I tossed old, grimy makeup, piled unwanted books into a box to be donated, and sifted through various items that I had could have only been keeping for some lost sentimental reason.

When it was all good and done, I felt like I could finally breathe again. Six months later, I still get rid of anything I can to make room in my life – not for more things, but just for possibility. For space. Physical possessions have started to feel like weighted shackles chained to my ankles.

I don’t know why I ever thought I needed so much stuff. Sure – I’ll always love clothes, and shoes, and purses, and just treating myself to retail therapy in general. But an old college roommate of mine once said something to me, during a conversation in which we were talking about how much we both loved to travel, and it has stuck with me ever since. It went a little something like this: “I almost never go shopping, buy clothes or go out to eat – because every time I spend, I just think about where that money could have bought me a flight to.”

Ever since then, that’s how I think. Before I spend money on anything nonessential, I think about where that money could take me - and it has completely changed my spending habits.

That idea, combined with the anxiety that was created by having so much stuff, is what fueled my desire to get rid of a lot of it. I sold a lot of stuff that at one point I thought I “needed” – old phones, iPods, video games, camera equipment, clothes, jewelry. The concept that potential possibilities are worth more than physical possessions seems to be pretty obvious, but sometimes people tend to forget about it . And with each item I packed up and shipped off, I felt more and more weight being lifted. I’ve started to pay more attention to my blessings instead of my possessions, actively being thankful for everything good in my life that wasn’t grounded in a physical object.

Some people love the holidays, some people don’t. I happen to be one of those annoying people who starts listening to Christmas music in November. But even if you’re not exactly fond of the holiday spirit – make sure you look back on this past year (boy, wasn’t 2016 a doozy), and remember to count your blessings instead of your things.

I’m thankful for my loving family, my supportive, loyal friends, and for my adoring boyfriend. I’m thankful to be in good health, and I’m thankful for my three dogs, which bring joy into my life each and every day. I’m thankful for warm sunny days, the ocean, and holiday cheer. And I’m thankful for all the opportunities I have been and will be given.

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15 Things Only Lake People Will Understand

There's no other place you'd rather be in the summer.

The people that spend their summers at the lake are a unique group of people. Whether you grew up going to the lake, have only recently started going, or have only been once or twice, you know it takes a certain kind of person to be a lake person. To the long-time lake people, the lake holds a special place in your heart, no matter how dirty the water may look. Every year when summer rolls back around, you can't wait to fire up the boat and get back out there. Here is a list of things you can probably identify with as a fellow lake-goer.

1. A bad day at the lake is still better than a good day not at the lake.

It's your place of escape, where you can leave everything else behind and just enjoy the beautiful summer day. No matter what kind of week you had, being able to come and relax without having to worry about anything else is the best therapy there is. After all, there's nothing better than a day of hanging out in the hot sun, telling old funny stories and listening to your favorite music.

2. You know the best beaches and coves to go to.

Whether you want to just hang out and float or go walk around on a beach, you know the best spots. These often have to be based on the people you're with, given that some "party coves" can get a little too crazy for little kids on board. I still have vivid memories from when I was six that scared me when I saw the things drunk girls would do for beads.

3. You have no patience for the guy who can’t back his trailer into the water right.

When there's a long line of trucks waiting to dump their boats in the water, there's always that one clueless guy who can't get it right, and takes 5 attempts and holds up the line. No one likes that guy. One time my dad got so fed up with a guy who was taking too long that he actually got out of the car and asked this guy if he could just do it for him. So he got into the guy's car, threw it in reverse, and got it backed in on the first try. True story.

4. Doing the friendly wave to every boat you pass.

Similar to the "jeep wave," almost everyone waves to other boats passing by. It's just what you do, and is seen as a normal thing by everyone.

5. The cooler is always packed, mostly with beer.

Alcohol seems to be a big part of the lake experience, but other drinks are squeezed into the room remaining in the cooler for the kids, not to mention the wide assortment of chips and other foods in the snack bag.

6. Giving the idiot who goes 30 in a "No Wake

Zone" a piece of your mind.

There's nothing worse than floating in the water, all settled in and minding your business, when some idiot barrels through. Now your anchor is loose, and you're left jostled by the waves when it was nice and perfectly still before. This annoyance is typically answered by someone yelling some choice words to them that are probably accompanied by a middle finger in the air.

7. You have no problem with peeing in the water.

It's the lake, and some social expectations are a little different here, if not lowered quite a bit. When you have to go, you just go, and it's no big deal to anyone because they do it too.

8. You know the frustration of getting your anchor stuck.

The number of anchors you go through as a boat owner is likely a number that can be counted on two hands. Every once in a while, it gets stuck on something on the bottom of the lake, and the only way to fix the problem is to cut the rope, and you have to replace it.

9. Watching in awe at the bigger, better boats that pass by.

If you're the typical lake-goer, you likely might have an average sized boat that you're perfectly happy with. However, that doesn't mean you don't stop and stare at the fast boats that loudly speed by, or at the obnoxiously huge yachts that pass.

10. Knowing any swimsuit that you own with white in it is best left for the pool or the ocean.

You've learned this the hard way, coming back from a day in the water and seeing the flowers on your bathing suit that were once white, are now a nice brownish hue.

11. The momentary fear for your life as you get launched from the tube.

If the driver knows how to give you a good ride, or just wants to specifically throw you off, you know you're done when you're speeding up and heading straight for a big wave. Suddenly you're airborne, knowing you're about to completely wipe out, and you eat pure wake. Then you get back on and do it all again.

12. You're able to go to the restaurants by the water wearing minimal clothing.

One of the many nice things about the life at the lake is that everybody cares about everything a little less. Rolling up to the place wearing only your swimsuit, a cover-up and flip flops, you fit right in. After a long day when you're sunburned, a little buzzed, and hungry, you're served without any hesitation.

13. Having unexpected problems with your boat.

Every once in a while you're hit with technical difficulties, no matter what type of watercraft you have. This is one of the most annoying setbacks when you're looking forward to just having a carefree day on the water, but it's bound to happen. This is just one of the joys that come along with being a boat owner.

14. Having a name for your boat unique to you and your life.

One of the many interesting things that make up the lake culture is the fact that many people name their boats. They can range from basic to funny, but they are unique to each and every owner, and often have interesting and clever meanings behind them.

15. There's no better place you'd rather be in the summer.

Summer is your all-time favorite season, mostly because it's spent at the lake. Whether you're floating in the cool water under the sun, or taking a boat ride as the sun sets, you don't have a care in the world at that moment. The people that don't understand have probably never experienced it, but it's what keeps you coming back every year.

Cover Image Credit: Haley Harvey

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An Open Letter on Maintaining Your Peace

A letter dedicated to those who didn't set resolutions conventionally. You do it on your own terms!


To everyone on Maintaining Your Peace,

With the start of the new year, there's so much pressure to achieve this by that date or have this halfway done before another. Then, more added pressure to formulate a goal or resolution before January ends (if you didn't have one before).

I am always cheering for goals to be made and met, however, there's one point I want to continue to emphasize: maintain your peace among it all.

Some people may associate not working on a goal or toward one as meaning your blank slate (the new year) has gone to waste. This is absolutely not the case for each individual. Some people see a breakthrough at the beginning of the year while others don't experience an open door until the very end. I have been on both ends of the spectrum.

I am not writing this as someone who is a professional, but merely a writer that hopes others don't feel stressed about creating their goals at the same time as everyone else seems to be. Sometimes, it helps to let yourself breathe and analyze. From there, you can get a clear sense of what you want out of the year. However, I will say that it is never good to sit for too long. Even if it is a small aspiration, don't let your blank slate remain as is. You never know what could happen within the year!

Maintaining your peace can be a simple walk you take every day or reading a book. It has no definitive meaning on what it takes to makes sure you're in relaxing spirits. It would also help to even get a list together on things you enjoy to help make this year as stress-free as possible. That in itself is still an aspiration.

Don't let other people make you feel bad for not having a long list of things you want to accomplish this year. Life isn't always about making resolutions at certain times. It's about, rather than timing, making them because you want to or need to.

I hope you gain perspective for yourself and on your own time.



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